Welcome to my first blog post, I'm glad you found me! The other day I got a phone call from a young man seeking help. He found me through the site of Open Path (a great organization that helps people seeking mental health counseling find high-quality counseling for a reduced fee). His question to me was, "Can you tell me, is it really possible to heal from past traumas?"
My answer to him and to all other people seeking help to overcome the past is, "YES!"
Traumas come in all sizes--from unfathomable atrocities of war and abuse, to the more ordinary traumas of breakups, criticisms, and poor self-images. The good news is, all of these forms of hurt are heal-able. Healing and change are possible.
How? Well, the paths are many. Some find healing in nature, some through creative expression, some through developing loving relationships. This post focuses specifically on healing from the past through working with a therapist experienced in the treatment of trauma.
These are some examples of healing that I have had the privilege of witnessing. (Any identifying characteristics of the people described below have been changed in order to protect their identities.)
- A young woman who was sexually abused by a family member at a young age and never told anyone, harbored feelings of guilt and shame for two decades. As an adult, she found herself suffering from depression, and involved in an emotionally abusive relationship and unable to find a way to change or end it. With the help of therapy, she was able to overcome those feelings of shame and guilt, and place the responsibility for the childhood abuse where it rightfully belonged. This allowed her to find a sense of empowerment she had been missing. She successfully ended the unhealthy relationship she had felt stuck in, and her depression lifted.
- A mother in her 30s who grew up with physical abuse and witnessing domestic violence, was left with a deep sense that she was unlovable. She was unhappy and worried about transmitting painful feelings to her own children. With the help of therapy, she was able to gain a sense of love and worthiness for the "young" part inside her that felt unlovable. Through this work, she was able to vastly improve her connection to her own children, helping to break the cycle of pain and disconnection.
- A man in his late forties who had recently lost his mother through a difficult death from illness, was left with feelings of guilt and grief, which caused him to become suicidal. By processing this experience with talk therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), he was able to come to terms with the death of his mother, and he was able to regain access to the lifetime of positive memories they shared, not just the difficult ending. He no longer felt that he was somehow at fault for the way in which his mother died, and he no longer thought about ending his own life.
If you are suffering from past hurts, or just unable to make the changes you want in your life, finding a therapist skilled in working with trauma can be a great investment in your future. It's important to find a therapist that you feel comfortable with. If doing this work sounds like something you are ready to try, feel free to give me a call to see if we may be a good fit.
I welcome you to share other examples of healing that you have witnessed.